Yoga poses for relaxation and people falling asleep in them seem to go together like… well, if not like “horse” and “carriage,” at least like like “downward” and “dog.”
And how do your improve on relaxation poses? Some of them, like the lie-on-your-back-with-the-legs-up-the-wall pose are so perfect for releasing a tight back or compressed lumbar spine, that it seems there’s no further to go.
Yet a long belt or yoga strap can do exactly that.
Got tight shoulders or upper back? Grab a strap and try this:
1. Lie on your back and place a strap around the arches of your feet. Straighten your legs. Hold the strap with your hands close enough to your feet that your shoulders are actually slightly lifted off the floor and your arms are hanging. Relax everything but the tension in your fingers that keep the pose in place. Stay for 4 long breaths.
2. Slide your feet wide on the strap. Don’t force the legs; let them just go where they want to go without any special emphasis. Once you find the spot , let the arms continue to hang, and notice the further muscular release along the spine. Enjoy this for 4-6 long, slow breaths.
3. Rock your body side to side now. Again, do this without any special emphasis in regards to how far your legs or feet go in one direction or the other. Just rock slowly, easily, letting your body acquire more relaxation. Do this for 4-6 slow breaths, or more, if it feels particularly enjoyable.
Benefits: An easy, enjoyable way to release tension in the upper, mid- and low-back, plus shoulders and neck. If you keep step 3 laid-back, it’ll maintain the diaphragmatic release that steps 1 and 2 generate (and thus foster easier, freer breathing). Hence that I like to use this particular sequence near the end of my yoga classes.
Avoid if: Your hips or shoulders don’t like the position because of a preexisting muscle or ligament tear. If you have arthritis and holding the strap doesn’t feel good, try wrapping a longer strap around your forearms and relaxing your fingers instead. If any of the side-to-side rocking feels less than enjoyable, skip it completely in favor of steps 1 and 2.
Final thoughts: Instead of “Belt-Aided Rocking Spinal Release” pose, I thought of calling this “Bet You Can’t Fall Asleep on Me in Class While Your Legs Are Up In The Air” pose.